They were supposed to be two of the sure things in 2009 college fantasy football. After all one returned a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, and the other boasted a top favorite for the 2010 award. Each would have to replace some talented wide receivers, but both brought back one pass catcher that would anchor the unit. One welcomed back a dynamic running back duo and an all-world tight end, while the other squad had high expectations that this would be the year a running back or two would truly emerge. And though Texas currently sits in position to make a move towards the national championship game and Oklahoma has seen its season unravel thanks to missed assignments on the field and doctors appointments off it, fantasy owners that invested top selections in Longhorns and Sooners have likely seen their own seasons of high hopes go up in smoke.
For college fantasy football owners, yesterday's Red River Rivalry was a microcosm for the respective seasons of both Oklahoma and Texas. The Sooners were quickly without Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham was watching from the sidelines, and neither DeMarco Murray nor Chris Brown could find space in the ground attack. The fact that it was Murray, not Ryan Broyles, Adron Tennell or Cameron Kenney that was the team's leading receiver again spoke volumes about the inconsistent nature of the Sooner offensive attack.
Meanwhile Colt McCoy, a quarterback that was supposed to be anything but a game-manager, was yet again, managing a game while posting fantasy numbers that ruin weeks. And while we've grown accustomed to seeing very little running production from the Hook 'Em running game, Jordan Shipley would take care of business, right? 4-22-0 is not what we had in mind.
Sure we're left with one team that's now 6-0 and on a collision course with Alabama or Florida. Texas is winning (ugly at times) and they now have trap trips to Columbia and Stillwater. But amazingly McCoy and Shipley are no longer must-starts.
Oklahoma is now 3-3, and it appears that San Antonio may be a best-case scenario for this Sooner squad. Their offensive line has been suspect as suspected, but this team's problems run much deeper. They'll need to travel to Lawrence and Lincoln over two of the next three weeks, two teams that are hurting but can see their seasons get right with a win over OU.
And DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, let alone Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles, are now being benched by owners in favor of players that brought a little less hype to the preseason picnic.
The best-laid plans of fantasy drafters often go awry. At least I think that's what Robert Burns wrote...
And here comes Montel Harris
Last year Boston College welcomed two very nice running backs, Montel Harris and Josh Haden, to Chestnut Hill. Fantasy owners were uncertain of whether this would be another dynamic running back duo, or if one back would truly emerge.
Consider one back as "emerged."
Yesterday Montel Harris ran the ball 27 times for 264 yards and five scores against a Wolfpack defense that has decided to make tackling optional these last two weeks. And now Harris has 755 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage for the season. And take a look at the next month for Harris: a game in South Bend against an Irish defense that can allow yards in chunks, and a visit from a Central Michigan squad that has never met a track meet in which it didn't want to partake. And following a bye the Eagles head to Charlottesville.
No one except the irrational message board head coaches should expect Harris to continue this torrid pace. However we now have a clear #1 back emerging for a team that's shown a commitment to the run. And B.C. will face some teams that have displayed an inability to slow down the ground attack. Thus Montel Harris should be atop your fantasy wish list heading into week eight.
Speaking of Running Backs...
Mark Ingram is looking more and more like the nation's top back. Combining a bruising running style with an ability to bust it outside, Ingram has emerged as the clear #1 guy in Tuscaloosa, thus squelching our split carry concerns from this summer.
Ingram has averaged about 25 carries per game the last three weeks, with 140 yards serving as his low yardage output during this span. His 24-246-1 from yesterday not only brings him to 1091 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns on the season, it must make him the current Heisman favorite among Southern voters.
Did we see a late-blooming star born yesterday in South Bend? USC senior tight end Anthony McCoy looked like a combination of Kellen Winslow (the dad) and Earl Campbell as he was lugging little Irishmen towards the goal line. Thanks to a 5-153 performance the Trojan tight end is now averaging 25 ypc on 14 grabs this season. All he needs to do next is make it to the end zone a time or two.
Hopefully you jumped on the Lance Dunbar train this week. The North Texas runner followed up 32-187-4 last week with 25-238-3 against Florida Atlantic on Saturday. And the return of Cam Montgomery may not be enough to keep Dunbar from running wild.
We've discussed his impressive start already, but in light of Joey Elliott's performance against Ohio State we'll mention him again. Over the last four weeks Elliott has become a lock for about 280 yards and 2.5 scores, making him one of the nation's top "oh crap, I forgot my quarterback is on the bye" replacement quarterbacks.
Nick Foles is not only looking like a great option down the stretch, but he's a likely top-ten quarterback heading into the 2010 college fantasy football season.
Through seven games Bowling Green's Freddie Barnes has 85 receptions for 882 yards and eight scores, with three touchdowns in each of the last two weeks.
Another ho hum three-score, 300-yard from scrimmage performance for Dan LeFevour.
Louisiana Tech's Ross Jenkins surpassed his season touchdown total with a four-score outing against New Mexico State.
Anyone else think that if it had been Florida, not Arkansas, victimized by some very questionable calls down the stretch that we may have a lot more kicking and screaming?
Anyone else have some programs that they kind of pull for for no good reason? Among mine has always been Texas A&M. And I have no idea what is going on with that program. How in the world does a team allow a K-State team that just lost by 52 to Texas Tech to smoke them by 48?
Any extended absence by Tony Pike and owners of Mardy Gilyard should go looking for wide receiver help.
Minnesota's leading rusher Saturday was promising freshman back Kevin Whaley. He gained 11 yards.
Russell Wilson has now thrown four touchdowns and four interceptions in his last three games. He threw 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first four.
While I'm convinced that there are some NFL teams that would struggle to move the ball against Bama, it was still painful watching the Gamecocks play offense on Saturday night.
Auburn fans should remember that this year's team is essentially the same group that stunk up the joint with Coach Tub. Malzahn needs some time to get his players in his system.
His inconsistency is maddening, but Danario Alexander is emerging as one of the top threats among Big XII receivers. Provided you can deal with 6-43 one week, his 9-180-1 the next makes him a valuable commodity, especially in total point leagues.
Think Fresno State didn't miss Ryan Mathews last season?
If you can get your hands on Logan Paulsen or Riar Geer do so. Each could really emerge down the stretch.
Steven Sheffield was credited with 11 carries for -32 yards. And he ran for two touchdowns.
Does the Cody Green era start right now for the Cornhuskers?
It's appearing like Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott can co-exist on fantasy teams, though Taua's marked advantage in number of carries makes him the better bet moving forward.
Oklahoma State has done a great job of holding the fort. Sitting at 5-1 there's still the potential for a special season, even with the struggles to keep Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter on the field.
Good to see Nic Grigsby come back and make a huge run late for the Wildcats, however with every carry I'm more enthused about what fellow back Greg Nwoko will do in Tuscon.
Look for the Pac-10 to soon become the cradle of quarterbacks again. The aforementioned Foles, Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Brock Osweiler lead a very talented new breed out west.
Does anyone else feel like Jacquizz Rodgers and Dion Lewis are the same player?